He's one of two men charged with the murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin at the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem. A huge pool of potential jurors will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about the case.
Atwater is facing federal carjacking charges related to Carson's 2008 murder. His attorneys have asked that the trial be moved out of state, due to all the public attention the case has received so far.
The trial is set to begin in May.
The other defendant in the case is Lawrence Lovette, Jr. Only Atwater will face a federal judge and the possibility of the death penalty, if convicted.
Lovette's age at the time of the crime - he was 17- made him ineligible for capital punishment. The two are accused of kidnapping, robbing and killing Carson.